For this project our client presented us with the challenge of turning an actual car into a themed prop for a TV commercial. Being a part of the Mixed Up Lunchables campaign was a fantastic opportunity to flip a car into a mashed up blend of animals.
The TV industry requires extremely quick turnarounds on project deliverables. For this element we had 2 days to previz and one week for production! Within that timeframe we gutted and modified the car body, sourced fur that our scenic painters transformed into a multitude of mixed up animal pelts, acquired full scale antlers and integrated them, CNC carved the rabbit ears and a platypus bill and tail and integrated a custom lighting effect.
Let's talk about the process. This project had many challenges. First of all, the whole scenic design was to be viewed from a full 360 degrees. Secondly, the elements needed to be lightweight but strong. Installing anything from hanging points 135-feet in the air is not easy. How does one begin to make gargantuan amphibians?
Once the car arrived in the studio; we removed the interior of the car and got to work. Our sculptors began creating the platypus bill, antlers, rabbit ears and tail. The lighting designer worked on the lighting effect and headlights. Then, we started engineering how we were going to attach the various sculpted animal elements. Once we had all the individual elements ready, we began the mix-up.
Well, we actually worked with anatomically-correct 3D models of these critters. As a result, we were able to “dissect” the frog shapes virtually, 3D carve them on our CNC router, then reassemble the parts back into their final shapes. Luckily, custom-engineered tooling allowed us to CNC carve in 12″ thick sections!
All of the fur that was sourced needed to be painted/toned to match the brand mascots colors. Our scenic painters developed a process that kept the fur supple yet matched the fur to a tee! Upholstering the car was a bit of a production, a cross between draping a fabric pattern and upholstering a chair, but with a bit of trial and error we came up with a successful procedure. Working from a full scale 3D model of the car in Rhino and CNC carving the foam elements on our KUKA robot enabled us to seamlessly integrate the sculpted elements onto the structure of the car with virtually no rework. The finishing touches of LED lighting, fog lights, headlights and ground effects programmed in a show controller really sold the gag.
Finally, we were up to the challenge of installing the frogs from hanging points 135-feet in the air. After two nights of careful installation, we were able to create full exposure for these frogs without using specimen pins.
Our extensive all in house capabilities allow us to complete complex projects like this on an accelerated timeline that separates us from other shops. Projects like these are always super fun for us as they require fast paced problem solving as well as thinking on our feet to make it happen!